The World of Formula 1 can be a strange place at times, with more bizarre goings on per square foot during the F1 season than you’d find at any science fiction/star trek convention fully of spotty 14 year-olds.

Usually during the winter months (November-March) us poor petrol-heads are limited to pouring over car launches with a magnifying glass and the odd winter test session timing sheet if we are lucky.

By and large these test sessions are pretty dull affairs, but eager for any scrap of detail no matter how minute, we scour the ‘tinter-web’ like a plague of hungry locusts. No doubt looking for some small clue that our car is the best one out there, and that our team could be onto a winning streak in the coming year. Obviously with some of us having to employ slightly more imagination than others.

This winter looked no different from normal, with all the usual claims of sandbagging, showboating and strange appendages, which we will come back to later.

lewis-in-barcelona.jpgThen Lo and Behold, just when we here at FFN were about to pull our hair out rather than face the daunting task of attempting to make winter testing a tad more “interesting” to the normal folk (that’s not including the armchair geeks with protractors ever at the ready)…. All manner of shenanigans kicked off. Unfortunately,well maybe fortunately for some, before the FFN staff could even so much as pass comment, our domain provider conveniently decided to pull the plug, replace us with some weight loss pills (what are they implying?) and hold us to ransom Ecclestone style.

We can only say we now know how Rod Hull felt when he had some interference in his TV football coverage, although we are hopefully going to stop short of climbing on the roof and subsequently falling off – EMU or not. Although we could be tempted to push Max Mosley off it at times.

Unless you have been living like a hermit and have had your broadband cancelled recently, no doubt you will be aware that at a recent test in sunny Barcelona, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton came in for a bit of flak from the local partisan crowd. The subsequent fall out; if the reaction of some could be believed was akin to the start of World War 3. Let me explain.

Emerging reports from some sources in Spain, suggested that a particularly small contingent of Alonso “fans” (we use the term loosely), decided to take it upon themselves to shout some rather unfriendly terms at young Lamppost Lewis as well as lobbing objects onto the race track. Presumably the objects in question were simply rubbish and anything found lying around at the time, and probably did not include any pertinent tomes on local Spanish Colloquialisms and Customs.

Apparently some of Fernando’s fans felt their hero had been hard done by at the hands of Lewis and the McLaren team last season, and felt the need to vocalise their displeasure in the direction of the British Star. Although why they would feel Alonso needs anyone’s assistance in that department we are at a loss to explain, since he seems more than capable of falling out with just about anyone all of his own accord and ensuring everyone knows about it. He is a big boy after all, allegedly.

We wouldn’t deem it appropriate to post some of the terminology employed here lest it upset anyone, but suffice to say according to some reports some of the phrases were particularly descriptive and involved mention of the word “black” and [insert expletive] and no we are not talking about astronomical phenomena that have a habit of swallowing whole galaxies and so forth (that would actually be Flavio Briatore’s gob).

Quicker than it takes Ron Dennis to blow dry his hair on the average morning, the British Press latched onto this rather unfriendly display, and before you could count the number of fingers on one hand, a tabloid war was going on back and forth between the British and their continental cousins. Not like the British to get involved in the odd war with the European Continent now and then, is it? Unconfirmed rumours have suggested the British Fleet were put on standby at Plymouth at one point in the ensuing verbal fracas, but don’t quote me on that.

the-most-ill-advised-carnival-costume-ever.jpgOne small group of unfortunates that found themselves in the eye of this particular storm in a tea mug, was a handful of Spaniards. According to themselves, the misguided group had dressed up for carnival, by painting their faces with boot polish, donning some rather flea-ridden looking wigs and writing on their T-shirts in rather dubious English that they were in fact members of Lamppost Lewis’s family.

An absolute furore seems to have ensued across F1 forums and bulletin boards, with most Spaniards rather furious at being labelled as a nation of racists (no general tarring and feathering involved then), and much name calling going on by both sides, with a few individuals in the middle totally perplexed as to why it had happened in the first place.

According to some sources in Spain, it is not considered a racial slur to paint oneself in boot polish and mock someone else’s family; it is apparently just dressing up in the carnival spirit (and looking competely ridiculous on further reflection). Although how carnival-like they will feel the next morning when they struggle to get said boot polish off their bed linen and get put in purgatory by the wife is anyone’s guess.

Presumably one of those groups getting their undergarments in a thorough twist over the whole affair are the small section of fans that had also dressed up for carnival at the circuit, but had gone largely unnoticed by the present media. Jealousy is a terrible thing.

Unconfirmed reports from the continent suggest this group largely consists of greedy money-grabbing 3 foot tall bowl hair-cut hobbit look-a-likes, dried up old prunes in grey suits pretending to be the FIA, and a whole legion of men in sombreros with straw donkeys tucked firmly under arm and bearing dodgy moustaches that could usually only be found on the film set of Zorro or in the McLaren camp on a bad day at a push.

3-foot-hobbit-look-a-like.jpgIn response the FIA has according to various media reports, launched an anti-racism campaign to be kicked off during the current season at the Spanish Grand Prix. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed it all out of hand and suggested the best way to deal with the issue, is to ignore it and let it go over your head (or some such advice). Which is pretty easy when you’re that vertically challenged, and would explain a few things about little Bernard for sure.

Lewis meanwhile has kept his cool and kept his head down, and we admire his patience and forbearance under such difficult circumstances. Having spent two weeks some years back feverishly working on my sun-tan in Crete, only to be called Snow White repeatedly by the hysterical lifeguards at the local waterslide park – well it’s enough to make one’s blood boil. Lewis really is a better man than I am, which probably isn’t that hard since I’m missing something vital in that department…

Meanwhile, not wanting to be outdone in the histrionic department by the F1 fanbase, F1 has been brewing its own storm if media reports are to be believed (and more often than not they aren’t).

According to Italian publication Autosprint, the Honda F1 team have discovered a hidden ‘bug’ within the Standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit) supplied to all the teams by the McLaren Group. If reports are true, pressing three of the buttons on the steering wheel in a set sequence unleashes an aggressive launch mode for the cars off the starting grid.

ecu.jpgUnusually Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has kept strangely quiet on the subject, suffice to say here at FFN we are very concerned. We can only presume this magical ‘three button’ launch sequence is either an entire fabrication, or Ferrari have found a much simpler way around launching their cars quick-sticks off the starting line, which doesn’t involve having to teach the Kimster complex button pressing routines first thing in the morning. Ferrari’s Spokesman would not confirm current scurrulous circulating rumours that Jean Todt has now found alternative employment within the company, and is largely responsible for screaming “Go!!! You muppets!!!” down his headpiece from his pedestal on the pitwall.

Strangely though, this aggressive secret performance mode hidden with the SECU seems to have done very little in the way of shooting Honda up the pecking order. Maybe next time they want to keep it under their bonnets, if they can work out which part of the car that is.

Stay tuned. For Spying, Sandwiches, Sandbags and Strange Appendages (that’s if I haven’t been branded a heretic and lynched by Honda fans in the meantime, or burnt at the stake in Barcelona and broadcast on YouTube) It’s a dangerous life being a writer. Ciaooo!

Advertisements